Women’s History Month is here, and what better way to celebrate than to take a look at the Woman Suffrage Collection here at Gleeson Library!
The Woman Suffrage Collection at Gleeson, consists of photographs and correspondence belonging to Dr. Clara W. MacNaughton and her daughter, Marie MacNaughton Davis.
Clara MacNaughton was a widowed woman in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When her husband died she was very determined to support herself and her daughter. This pushed Clara to graduate from the University of Michigan in 1885 and become a dentist.
Thanks to Clara MacNaughton, we have a series of correspondence from her to the famous Clara Bewick. Clara B. Colby was a British-American women’s activist and suffragist leader. Daughter of Thomas and Clara Willingham Bewick, she and her family moved from England and settled in Windsor, Wisconsin during the mid 19th century. When Clara was 19 years old she moved to Madison, Wisconsin where she would attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As a student Clara struggled with the issues that came from co-ed education at the time, like lack of courses a woman could pick from and the uncertainty of women being admitted. She ended up graduating valedictorian from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s first all women’s class.
A scrapbook created by Marietta Stow as well as multiple other correspondents from people like Olympia Brown and Belva Lockwood are also all available and digitized on our Woman Suffrage Collection.
Marietta Stow was a politician and women’s rights activist who advocated for women’s suffrage and access to political office. Marietta Stow grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and worked as a teacher there in her early adulthood. She not only lectured about young girls working in dangerous shops and helping the orphaned daughters of Union Soldiers, but also paid for her own causes.
Stow’s husband died eight years into their marriage and since Stow was in Europe at the time of his death, and the courts denied her inheritance, she began advocating for the probate law reform, which was a reform that would allow the widow of a spouse control over their property, which at the time women had no right to do.
Around the year 1869, Marietta became the president of the San Francisco Women’s Suffrage Association and in 1880, Stow was nominated by the Greenback Party to be the San Francisco School Director. A year after her acceptance as San Francisco School Director, she formed the Women’s Independent Political Party. This new party was a way for women to gain the courage to speak up and be involved in politics while also getting exposed to the political world that before was a man’s world.
This movement was so important because these women’s work resulted in the addition of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, allowing women the right to vote as well as paving the way for other progressive movements like the establishment of legislation regulating child labor and food, drug safety, prohibition, and even voting rights for people of color.
Olympia Brown is another notable individual, who we have correspondence from. She had a big impact on the cause. Olympia Brown was the first woman to be ordained as clergy with the consent of her denomination. Brown was also an articulate advocate for women’s rights and one of the few first generation suffragists who were able to vote with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. She was also a writer of two books, one of which can be found in our collection named, Acquaintances, old and new, among reformers.
As a Jesuit institution whose mission is to “nurture a diverse, ever-expanding community where persons of all races and ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, genders, generations, abilities, nationalities, occupations, and socioeconomic backgrounds are honored and accompanied” we should honor these efforts which are made evident by our collection.
What can you do to honor these women’s efforts?
- Come to Gleeson and take a look at our Women’s history month display consisting of books and copies of our digital and physical collections
- Check out books that tell the stories of the women who came before us
- Learn about the resources Gleeson Library has including our Digital Collections where many original documents during the Women’s Suffragist Movement have been cataloged
Winning the Vote : The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement – The History of American women’s passion and drive for political equality from the 1840s to 1920 and after.
Protest, Power, and Change – The encyclopedia of nonviolent action from ACT-UP to Women’s Suffrage
Feminism and Suffrage: Ellen Carol DuBois describes the changing context for the history of woman suffrage at the millennium.
The Origins of the Equal Rights Amendment – The discovery of the history of the National Woman’s Party. This feminist lobby group organized to make Congress aware of sex discrimination during the late twenties and thirties.
Vanguard – The history of African American women pursuing political power — and how it transformed America.
International Encyclopedia of Women’s Suffrage – Book that tells the true stories of important leaders and events in the women’s struggle to obtain the right to vote worldwide. This includes the examination of women’s suffrage movements internationally, that includes the history from all five continents.
Divided We Stand – Reveals how the fight between feminists and their conservative rivals divided the nation as the democratic party continued to support women’s rights and the republican party portrayed themselves as the party of family values.
Suffrage and Beyond – Responds to the questions of, How have suffrage movements evolved? What are the similarities and/or differences in which women from different religious, and political contexts, have sought the vote?
The Myth of Seneca Falls – The tale of how the women’s rights movement started at the “Seneca Falls” convention of 1848, and how it is a cherished American myth.
One Woman, One Vote – Book based on the PBS American Experience documentary One Woman, One Vote, with the addition of essays by very knowledgeable historians.
The Concise History of Woman Suffrage – Selections from the classic works of authors like Stanton, Anthony, and Gage.